Christy Sports The Ridge Report
A Blog About Everything Skiing & Snowboarding in Colorado & Utah
Ski Trip Essentials for Spring Break

Packing for a trip is difficult, but packing for a ski trip can be a daunting task. It can seem impossible to know what you will truly need to enjoy the mountains. Whether you are packing your own ski equipment or renting on arrival, skiing and snowboarding requires a lot of gear! If you are planning to travel to a mountain paradise during Spring Break, here is a list of essentials for spring skiing warm weather.

Outerwear:

Ski Jacket:  Pack a windproof, waterproof ski or snowboard shell jacket for spring .  If you are snowboarder, a longer snowboarding jacket will help to keep snow out.

Ski Pants: Make sure to pack waterproof, vented  ski or snowboard pants.

Long Underwear: Non-cotton base layers are recommended for under your jacket and other layers of insulation. Spring skiing weather can be unpredictable to plan for the right amount of layers.

Additional Insulation: Pack a down, synthetic, or fleece jacket or vest for under your ski jacket to provide extra warmth in addition to your shell jacket in case the weather happens to be a little colder. Spring weather can be a challenge being able to find the right balance between cold mornings and sunny afternoons!

Accessories:

Gloves: A good pair of waterproof, thick gloves is essential. Regular knitted gloves or mittens won’t cut it in the snow.

Neck Gaiter: Shield your neck and chin from cold and the sun!

Goggles: Help protect your eyes with ski and snowboard googles from the snow refection and choose a pair that has a venting system so they don’t fog up. Darker lens on googles tend to be best for sunny days.

Helmet:  A No Brainer! This is a crucial piece of mountain safety and your safety.  Just about everyone wears one these days. If you don’t own a helmet, you can rent one if needed.

Ski Socks: Different from your everyday socks. They are typically made of wool and designed to regulate body temperature and wick away sweat and moisture.

Winter Hat: A good winter hat or beanie will provide extra insulation and covers up your helmet hair so you can easily transition to the hot tub or après!

Sunscreen / Lip Balm: This is crucial when spending a day on the mountain especially in the springs at higher elevations where UV rays magnifies and reflects off the snow.  Goggle tans aren’t that cool when you look like Homer Simpson.

Gear:

Gather up your skis, snowboard, binding, poles and boots! Depending on where you are traveling to or for how long, might determine if you want to bring your own gear or rent ski and snowboard gear.

If you are planning to travel with your own gear, it’s vital to pack it in a padded ski and snowboarding travel bag to prevent damage or broken as they get tossed around during the journey.

Other Items You Might Need:

Sunglasses: They are great for when you’re sitting outside on a bluebird day or for walking around town.

Hand and Toe Warmers: When it’s a really cold day on the mountain, these can be a lifesaver.

Camera: Don’t forget the camera or GoPro! You won’t want to miss out on capturing those action shots.

First Aid Kit: A long day of skiing can make for some pain. It’s good to have a kit on-hand with Advil,  also for a possible hangover!

Oxygen: Altitude sickness can put a real damper in your vacation, so upon arrival purchase oxygen.  Traveling to higher altitudes can cause altitude sickness because lower oxygen levels. Boost Oxygen provides a great all-natural and safe solution! Stop by one of our retail locations to pick up 95% pure oxygen and feel better if the altitude hits you.

Boost Oxygen

Winter Clothing: Planning on staying at a resort for a couple days, will also require bringing warm winter clothing and snow boots for strolling around town to enjoy après ski and restaurants!

Packing for a ski vacation can be challenging, but hopefully with our list of essentials you can enjoy your time on the mountain and worry less about the items you might have forgotten.

Are you are ski vacation pro? Are there any items you would add to our list?

Hug a Snowmaker

Give a snowmaker a hug.  They’ve earned it!  Most people don’t realize what goes into getting our ski season underway.  Unfortunately, Mother Nature doesn’t always bring us the snow as early as we want it. Luckily, the snowmaking crews are there to save the day.  Not only do they get the mountains to open up early, but they also let the resorts stay open even later.  Think about it: assuming the resorts had enough natural snow to open by January, with as much traffic as the base areas see every year, we’d be walking around in the mud by March.  Instead, snowmakers make our season much longer than it would be naturally, enabling the resident ski bums to proudly say, “Yeah, I get over 100 days a season.”  The question is, though; how do the snowmakers make it all happen?

Honestly, it sounds super easy; just shoot water up into the air and then wait for the snow to fall, right?  However, as with most things that seem very simple, there is a certain degree of difficulty involved.  First off, everything revolves around the wet bulb.  I know it sounds like a made up thing, but it’s not; the wet bulb is the relationship between the ambient temperature and humidity.  Imagine being sprayed with water while standing outside in the winter; the wet bulb would be the temperature that your bare skin feels when exposed to the air.  This number, derived by some sort of mathematical trickery, lets the snowmaking crews know when to start making snow, but it also affects how they make the snow throughout the day and night.  Depending on what the wet-bulb temperature is, the crews adjust the air and water pressure accordingly.

Photo: Dustin Schaefer

Photo: Dustin Schaefer

You know when I asked you to imagine getting sprayed with water and standing outside in the cold?  Well, that is exactly what the snowmaking crews have to do in order to check the quality of snow.  The ratio of air and water has to be constantly adjusted, so one of the snowmakers has to stand under the plume of snow and make sure that it isn’t too wet or too dry.  If it’s too dry, the snow will blow away, and if it’s too wet, the snow will just melt off.  The snowmakers check the quality in a few ways, including analyzing how much snow builds up vs bounces off of their uniform, making snowballs and squeezing, and other various tricks.  So, if you’ve ever been on the lift and seen a snowmaker standing under the plume or vigorously squeezing snowballs, they’re not crazy.  They’re just trying to provide us all with a solid base layer of quality snow.

Most resorts have two 12-hour shifts running during peak snowmaking season in order to capitalize on the coldest temperatures.   When everything lines up just right, they are able to make snow 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.   Think about that.  While you rest up before an early season ski day, snowmakers are out there in the middle of the night trying to lay down more giant piles of snow, all in an attempt to open more skiable terrain.

The amount of effort and science that goes into snowmaking is amazing, and considering what their hard work means for all of us, I’d say that we owe them…a lot!  So, rather than wasting time with tired old sayings like, ‘blown snow blows’ or complaints about the ‘ribbon of death’ and ‘landing strip’ we should all be grateful to these hardworking folks because the resorts are opening and the lifts are turning because of them.  Enjoy those early season turns for what they are, and make sure that your legs are ready for that first powder day.

Season Alive Header

The calendar seems to be rushing towards the resort closing dates at an alarming rate.  While spring skiing conditions don’t get much better than they are right now, it seems like at the end of the day, I walk away from the resort a little bummed out.  No matter how much fun I had, one pervasive thought dampens my mood; the season is almost over.  Don’t fret though.  For those of you who aren’t ready to let the season go, there is hope.

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Image: Dave Camara – Arapahoe Basin

The Holdouts

Even though most resorts in Colorado and Utah shut down around the same time, places like A-Basin and Snowbird refuse to yield to the warming temperatures until the last possible moment.  It’s really refreshing to see a big, bold TBD on their calendars well after the lifts stop turning at the other resorts.  Plus, the longer their seasons go, the more festive things get.  From giant barbecues in the parking lot, to fun on-mountain events, these mountains and the die-hard skiers and riders who frequent them know how to wring every ounce of fun out of the season.

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Image: of Kat Via Flickr

Endless Winter

After the last resort shuts down in the West, rather than face a change in seasons, change your hemisphere instead.  Just hop on a plane and head over to New Zealand, Chile, Argentina, or Australia, and you can see where the snow went after it abandoned you in the States.   Whether chasing winter full time or just escaping the summer heat for one unforgettable ski trip, ripping around a mountain in August is a guaranteed way to satisfy the inner powder hound in you.

Earn Your Turns

Image: Emily-Jane Newbern

Image: Emily-Jane Newbern

For the purist, the adventure seeker, the endurance athlete, and for the folks who can’t afford a trip to New Zealand, hoofing it is your best option for late season turns.  The backcountry and side country in the Rock Mountains stay relatively good for months, allowing you to enjoy the snow even after the last of the holdout resorts call it quits for the year. Better still though, when the backcountry snow turns into a granular, pitted mess, you can always turn to the glaciers. A short drive from Denver and a short hike up a trail delivers you to a large snowfield called St Mary’s Glacier. Places like St Mary’s (and there are multiple gems like this all across the Rockies) are the perfect destination for midsummer turns. While strapping your gear to a backpack and heading into the hills is a fun and exciting way to keep the season alive, only experienced and prepared backcountry travelers should attempt it.

Don’t get me wrong, I love summer and all of the activities that warm weather affords, it’s just hard to let go of winter. So, in between runs, bike rides, camping trips, hikes, and barbecues, you will find me punctuating my summer with old ski movies, and the occasional trip up some remote snowfield with a snowboard strapped to my backpack.

If you know of any other ways to keep the ski season alive, let me know!

Bucket List Header

Most resorts have now posted, to my dismay, their closing dates. While I spend every night praying to the snow gods that these dates will be pushed back so I can add just a few more days to my tally, alas, I need to start preparing for the end of this sacred season. With a little over a month left to the season here in the Rockies, I have made a bucket list of things I think everyone should do before the lifts stop turning:

Get Some Sweet, Sweet Powder – If you’re a weekend warrior like myself, it can sometimes be difficult to reach your powder quota for the year because of the luck that is required for it to dump on a Saturday or Sunday. If you don’t have the flexibility to go ski whenever and wherever the snow falls, tell your boss right now (so they have fair warning) that the next time a storm comes through you’re not coming in because you’ve got the powder flu. Do whatever you need to do to get those first tracks one more time.

Go Night Skiing – There are few things I enjoy more than having the whole mountain to myself and not a single person in the lift line. Night skiing is easily the best kept secret of resort riding, because most people assume it’s going to be cold and windy, so almost no one goes. However, if you can catch the right conditions you’ll also catch the magic that is night skiing.

Dial In That Trick– Every season I have a new trick I want to learn, and every season I somehow get distracted by other things and fail to perfect that trick. Don’t let that happen to you this year. Use these last couple of ski days to work on that trick until you have it ingrained in your muscle memory so you can walk away from the season feeling like you progressed and can start next season where you left off.

Scare Yourself – One of things that make skiing and snowboarding so great is that there is always a way for you to push your limits. I thoroughly enjoy a good adrenaline rush after finishing a tight tree run or hitting a larger park feature than I normally would. So, if you haven’t gotten out of your comfort zone this season, do it now. Of course, be reasonable.  Don’t hurt yourself, but if you’ve been staring at that double black all season or a park feature you think you can tackle, now is the time.

Go with the friends you’ve been saying you’d go with all season – Throughout the season I run into old friends and meet new friends and we always end the conversation with, “We should ride together sometime” or “Let me know the next time you’re going up”.  Those words always turn into empty promises though, and I end up riding with the same people all season. Call up those other friends, plan to meet up, and make it happen. Avoid the empty promise cycle and you might even find a new best shred-friend.

Folks, the 2014-2015 ski season won’t last forever, and you will never get those precious ski days back, so get out there while there is still some season left! What’s on your end-of-season bucket list? Share in the comments below.

Stop Into Local Header

It looks like Colorado is on Ullr’s good side this year, and the early ski season is shaping up to be pure white. We’ve already seen great skiing and riding conditions throughout November and December, so, if you’re not in the mountains, get here! And when you’ve gotten here, poke your head into a local ski shop before you hit the slopes. Get ready: I’m going to fill you in on why this should become a part of your ski day routine.

There is no better place than a ski shop to feel the buzz of a mountain town. They’re the focal point of every ski town because it’s where locals go to catch up on insider mountain news and visitors go to get equipment and establish ties with the community. Plus, you never know who you’ll bump into. It could be anyone from the old guard; the ones that founded the ski area and scoped the runs in the pioneer days of skiing before grooming and chairlifts. Or you could meet one of the new schoolers; the young kids who are hucking themselves in the park or ripping up the racecourse, basically the ones you’ll likely see in the next Olympics. These people go in and out of ski shops on a regular basis for a couple basic reasons: to keep their gear maintained and get the pulse of the community. To immerse yourself in the culture of skiing and to really get stoked on your trip this year, there’s no better way to kick off your visit than by talking snow at a shop. It’s a part of the culture that you won’t want to miss out on.

There are a few reasons that people tend to miss this great opportunity to tap into the local knowledge base, but believe me; none of these excuses are worth it.

I get it. It’s been a long drive. Perhaps even a stuffy flight before that. You just want to jump to the après ski scene – before you’ve even skied – by relaxing in the hot tub with a cold one. Instead, when you roll into town, the first thing you need to do is get the scoop. What’s the snow like? Where’s it thin and where’s it loaded? When’s the new terrain going to open? Where can you get some grub that is delicious but not overpriced?  Where are the cheapest parking lots? And, most importantly, where can you find the best breakfast burrito? These are all crucial pieces of intel, and without each piece, your first day on the hill may not meet its true potential.

By stopping in at a local ski and snowboard shop, you give yourself a chance to understand the culture and get the insider info on where to go, both on the mountain and off. The folks at a true local shop will let you know where to fuel up in the morning, where to replenish midday, and the areas to check out around the mountain that will be right for you. The number of interactions you make with people in a ski shop will surprise you, and probably lead to some quality lasting relationships. You’ll meet fellow visitors, ski bums, patrollers, ski techs, ski pioneers, free-skiers, racers and locals.

There’s no better way to get the local down low. You don’t even have to stress about finding the best shop, because Christy Sports has locations all over Colorado and Utah. They’ve been around forever and the employees are genuinely happy about sharing their passions with others. So, whether you’re a ski town local, weekend warrior, or vacationer; get to know the guys and gals at the local ski shop. It’ll certainly pay off.

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Movies Header--web

There are some telltale signs that winter is quickly approaching, and chief among them is the annual parade of new ski and snowboard movies.  Earlier and earlier each year, the top names in the ski movie biz are pushing their premiere’s out to a hungry public.  Pow Hounds and Park Rats alike partake in the festivities, leaving the movies with a sense of excitement and an undeniable desire for winter to hurry up and arrive.

If you didn’t make it to the shows this year but still want to check out the new flicks and get stoked for the upcoming winter, here are a few movies worth looking into:

MSP Films, Days Of My Youth

The Matchstick crew always delivers. Always.  However, Days Of My Youth does more than just deliver; this movie will blow your mind!  The story line is shaped and narrated by the writings of British Philosopher Alan Watts, which sounds a little strange, but actually adds a really cool aspect to the whole movie.  From the super beginner days all the way through a face meltingly intense chute, Days Of My Youth, brings every aspect of the perfect ski movie together, plus a little extra.  I don’t know if you can tell or not, but I loved this movie…

Unicorn Picnic, Pretty Faces

Finally, finally, finally, there is a movie out there that puts a sparkly spin on that played out saying, ‘you ski like a girl’.  In a Kickstarter campaign, Lindsay Dyer brought together a phenomenal group of the top female athletes, and for the first time in a full feature ski movie, no guys, no beards; just a gaggle of INCREDIBLE ladies skiing lines and dropping cliffs that will keep your eyes wide and your jaw on the floor.  Trust me, when the credits roll, you will either be glad you are a girl, or wish you could ski like one.

TGR, Almost Ablaze

First off, this movie just won the Film of the Year Award at the IF3 festival which is kind of a big deal, so if you don’t know what the IF3 is about, you should probably check it out.  Anyways, Almost Ablaze mixes it up in this film, showing impressive skiing (obviously) as well as trippy new ideas with some artsy videography.  This movie doesn’t waste much time with story lines, but instead uses all of its energy in shot after shot awesomeness.  Definitely worth owning!

TGR Presents Jeremy Jones’ Higher

WOW.  If you haven’t seen one of Jeremy Jones’ movies, let me tell you what not to expect.  You won’t see any tall T’s, oversized headphones, double corks, or handrails.  However, you won’t really miss all that stuff.  Instead, you get to see some seriously passionate people climbing and then riding some seriously intense lines.  In his final installment to the Deeper, Further, Higher trilogy, Jeremy Jones takes his snowboarding to entirely different heights, which almost seems impossible.  Watching what he and his crew are able to accomplish is impressive if you only look at the lines they are riding, but when you get to see the effort and determination it took to get to the top of those imposing lines….wow…just wow.

Yep, winter is coming.  Are you stoked yet?